The darker, colder conditions of Scandinavia seem to be reflected in the collective music scenes in Sweden, Norway and Finland, which are known for producing the world’s premier black, doom, and gothic metal bands, as well as less gloomy rock music like The Sounds, The Hives and Turbonegro.
Swedish band The Rasmus seems to straddle both genres on their fifth release, Dead Letters. The band combines singsong choruses with crunchy, distorted guitars and subtle mood-setting synthesizers.
As would be expected with an album of this nature, the bulk of the lyrical content is focused on the attempted juxtaposition of gloomy imagery with exaggerated, non-specific romanticism, with varying degrees of success on The Rasmus’ part.
The band’s attempts to be slow and brooding on songs like “Time To Burn” and “The One I Love” come off as derivative. Cliché with lyrics like “This bed has become my chapel of stone/ A garden of darkness to where I’m thrown/ So take my life, I don’t need it anymore,” don’t help either.
Although their attempts at breaking new ground don’t seem to improve as the tempo increases, the band sounds far more comfortable sinking its teeth into the poppier songs on the album. The standout track, “Back In The Picture,” plays like an energized take on HIM’s “You Are The One.”
Dead Letters comes off as the work of a band in the midst of changing its sound. But, whether its for personal or financial reasons, they seem to be finding it difficult to earn the credibility necessary to be play the role of tormented lovers dressed all in black without sounding like a complete farce.
If you’re look for something a little more legitimate than this Swedish pop-rock band, check out acts like HIM and The 69 Eyes, who, although fully capable of being cheesy at times, have stayed true to their own sound. It’s better than anything you’ll hear on Dead Letters.